Study envisions future of I-70 through mountains |

Study envisions future of I-70 through mountains

DENVER – After more than 20 years of studies about Interstate 70 through the Colorado mountains, the federal government has decided on more studies.

Only the next round of studies will be smaller, according to a statement released Thursday by the Colorado Department of Transportation.

The Federal Highway Administration signed its Record of Decision for the Interstate 70 Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement.

That creates a framework for improvements on the I-70 corridor between Denver and Glenwood Springs.

Now that CDOT and the feds, along with a lake full of stakeholders, finished this big study, they’ll now start on lots and lots of smaller studies for specific highway projects – called Tier 2 projects. These projects, though, must be consistent with the Record of Decision.

The projects those smaller studies actually study will get done if, and when, the money is available.

This has been going on since the 1990s, and it’s aimed at “seeking strategies to mitigate increasing traffic on I-70 west of Denver.”

The goals include:

• Building six lanes on I-70 from Floyd Hill through the Twin Tunnels. A bike trail and frontage roads are envisioned from Idaho Springs east to Hidden Valley and Hidden Valley to U.S. 6 .

• Improving Empire Junction, the intersection of U.S. 40 and I-70

• Building an eastbound auxiliary lane from the Eisenhower/Johnson Tunnel to Herman Gulch.

• Building another westbound lane from Bakerville to the Eisenhower Tunnel.

These things they will do if they ever have the money, they said.

Record of Decision was wrestled to the table by CDOT, the Highway Administration and the Collaborative Effort. The latter is a 27-member group representing many I-70 corridor interests.

The Record of Decision’s “preferred alternative” includes another study about what it would take to build an Advanced Guideway System along the I-70 corridor. CDOT begins the Advanced Guideway System study this summer.

“This is a significant milestone, not just for the people who live along this corridor but for the citizens of this state,” said Les Gruen, chairman of the Colorado Transportation Commission.

“Implementing the (Collaborative Effort) process was crucial and a great example of what can be accomplished when everyone comes together to improve our transportation system,” said CDOT Executive Director Don Hunt.

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